It’s been nearly five months since my husband died, and in the last couple of weeks, I can say, “I am doing better.” A bit of darkness has lifted, I focus more successfully, and looking forward is not as foreign.
I close these weekly articles with, “Live while you live.” In the last two-plus years, when my husband’s illness began, and his health slowly deteriorated, I have lived slower. Life was cloudy, and my thoughts held hostage first in fear of the unknown—then in the hope of successful treatment, and now, in the sadness of loss plus lack of future direction. Life after loss inhibited my imagination for possibilities.
The twentieth anniversary of 9/11 was impactful for me. Tears came as I watched the various tributes and recalled my place in the world on that day. The song lyrics by Billy Ray Cyrus, “All gave some, and some gave all,” grew more meaningful. Gratefulness, for so many things, was my takeaway for the day. All the coverage and activities provided a safe setting for me to grieve out loud.
Death is too complex to explain. All I can do is share my experience and hope it helps you relate, at some level, if you’ve had similar feelings, struggles, and growth in the aftermath of a significant loss.
One challenging aspect of grieving is nobody else can understand because no two people experience the same loss the same way. As a counselor, I can listen and offer information and ideas, but I always say, “I have no way of knowing what you are going through.” One surviving 9-11 spouse said it well, “You don’t move on, you move in.” I get it.
Another reflection shared was about the ash covering everything after the towers fell, “The world was covered in gray.” The exact words might describe grieving. Today, I’m saying the dust in my world is beginning to blow away, uncovering occasional tiny sparkles.
My husband and I loved NYC. We visited Ground Zero at various stages of the cleanup and construction of the memorial and museum. I’ve taken two granddaughters to the respectful and reverent site. The process of Ground Zero recovery is similar to individual grief. Initially, it was overwhelming and had us stuck in horror and fear. Slowly, debris was saved or hauled away, and rumbles of disagreement detoured the progress. After years of negotiations and hard labor, the tragic setting became home to inspiration and strength—the same is true when losing a loved one; if we stay on track, our loss, not forgotten, will repair and rebuild.
Lucky for us, we have living examples of people healing and feeling whole again. Life will never be the same; that is impossible, but we will become okay if we balance remembering, forgetting, and accepting.
I want to thank everyone who has listened, guided, and supported me in my grieving journey. I will, again, “Live while I live.” So will you.
Until the next time: Live while you live.
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